Hutchinson’s teeth can develop unknowingly in many children. Learning about the causes and treatments for Hutchinson’s teeth is essential for parents. Follow below to understand the cause of Hutchinson’s teeth, how to prevent it, and how to treat the existing condition.
What is Hutchinson’s teeth?
Hutchinson’s teeth is a condition caused by early exposure to syphilis before or during the birth of a child. Syphilis is a known sexually transmitted disease (STI) spread from person to person via mucous. Syphilis is a bacterial infection that generally starts around the genitals, rectum, or mouth. Once these sores have developed, the bacterial infection is spread via mucous.
When the condition first develops, syphilis sores and rashes are usually painless during the early stages of infection. Adults often do not realize they have a syphilis infection right away. Sometimes, people are unaware of the condition for years after the initial infection. Symptoms of syphilis can include:
- A rash covering the whole body
- Flu-related symptoms such as fever, body aches, chills, or a sore throat
- General hair loss
Hutchinson’s teeth is a condition in children who have been exposed to a syphilis infection before or during birth. Hutchinson’s teeth refer to the development of abnormal teeth in a child exposed to the infection. The teeth grow farther apart than average teeth and will have a curved or sharp shape as they develop.
Signs of Hutchinson’s Teeth
More often than not, Hutchinson’s teeth might be the first signal that your child has a syphilis infection or was exposed to syphilis infection. In other instances, your baby may have a rash or other related syphilis symptoms at birth. Symptoms may develop months or years later if a baby does not show signs at birth.
Referred to as the Hutchinson triad, these symptoms are telltale signs of a child exposed to a syphilis infection:
- Inner ear abnormalities that can potentially cause deafness (labyrinthine disease)
- Eye abnormalities that can inflame the cornea of the eye (interstitial keratitis)
- Teeth issues (Hutchinson’s teeth)
Around the age of five is when you might first be able to tell if your child has Hutchinson’s teeth. Some specific indications of Hutchinson’s teeth include:
- Rounded teeth with a crescent-like notch
- Discolored or thinning enamel
- Teeth that are developing smaller than average
- Teeth that are spaced wider than average
If you’re unsure but suspect your child may have Hutchinson’s teeth, consult your regular pediatrician or other dental specialists.
How do you prevent Hutchinson’s Teeth?
When children form their teeth, Hutchinson’s teeth develop around the age of five. However, the development of Hutchinson’s teeth is caused by a syphilis infection that has been present since birth or before the child’s birth. The best way to prevent Hutchinson’s teeth is to treat your syphilis infection before your child’s conception.
You may be aware of the symptoms of a syphilis infection, or, like many others, you may not even know you currently have a syphilis infection. If you are in the stages of planning to conceive a child, receiving STI testing and treating any discovered STIs is strongly recommended.
The lasting symptoms of a syphilis infection that can pass to your child usually solidify and increase past the 18th week of pregnancy. Receiving treatment before the 16th week of your pregnancy is crucial to prevent Hutchinson’s teeth and other related issues caused by a congenital syphilis infection.
How do you treat Hutchinson’s Teeth?
Treatment for Hutchinson’s teeth can vary case by case. When considering or seeking treatment for your child’s Hutchinson’s teeth, you will want to consult with your child’s pediatrician or a pediatric dental professional. Your child’s doctor might suggest multiple options when considering treatment. Initially, your child’s dental professional might recommend:
- X-Rays or other imaging examinations
- Braces or similar orthodontic tools
- Dental restorations such as fillings, crowns, or bridges
Your dental professional may also treat your child with a shot of penicillin to treat the existing bacterial infection. However, once Hutchinson’s teeth develop, the condition is irreversible without outside care. When implemented, fillings, crowns, bridges, and other dental applications treat the various conditions of Hutchinson’s teeth.
Due to weakening or discolored enamel, your child may be prone to a greater risk of cavities. One of the treatments for cavities brought on more frequently by the condition of Hutchinson’s teeth is tooth fillings. Dental professionals will use composite material, a dental amalgam, silver, or gold, to fill in cavities on your child’s teeth to further protect them.
While fillings are used for children’s teeth that have yet to fully develop, dental crowns are another important dental application to treat permanent teeth in children with Hutchinson’s teeth. Dental crowns are caps crafted by a dental professional that are placed and glued above an existing tooth. Dental crowns can improve the look, function, and utility of the teeth.
Dental crowns can be made out of multiple materials, including:
- Porcelain fused to metal
- Stainless steel
- Mixed metal alloys
Each material has its pros and cons when it comes to acting as a dental crown. Consult with your dental professional to further understand the use and functionality of dental crowns for you and your child.
Dental bridges are another dental application used to treat Hutchinson’s teeth. A dental bridge is a fake tooth placed between natural teeth to close gaps between existing teeth in the mouth. There are a handful of different types of dental bridges, including:
- Traditional bridges
- Cantilever dental bridges
- Maryland dental bridges
The type of dental bridge used will be determined by your dental professional.
The application of dental implants involves a dental professional placing a metal rod or post in your child’s mouth. This metal rod is embedded into the jaw bone and is used as a structure to place future crowns or bridges.
It’s important to note that dental implants can only be performed when a jaw bone is fully formed as an adult. Dental implants can be effective for adults with Hutchinson’s teeth who need bridgework or seeking an alternative option to dentures.
A dental implant procedure involves the installation of the metal rod into the jaw bone. Weeks later, a crown or bridge can be placed in the mouth after the rod is secured to the jaw and fully healed.
Looking for fillings, implants, or dental crowns near me? Schedule an appointment today at Absolute Dental.
Personal Dental Hygiene Tips for someone with Hutchinson’s Teeth
Children with Hutchinson’s teeth are at a greater risk for dental ailments due to weakened enamel, improperly formed teeth, and more. Dental professionals recommend regular dental care for Hutchinson’s teeth by:
- Brushing teeth two times per day with a soft-bristled toothbrush
- Floss between teeth
- Using dental care products like toothpaste or mouthwash that contain fluoride
- Maintain a healthy and balanced diet, avoiding sugary and acidic foods
- Stay up to date on regular cleanings and care from your dentist
Hutchinson’s teeth and other symptoms and conditions that can arise from a congenital syphilis infection can be severe. Preventing Hutchinson’s teeth and other syphilis-related ailments is entirely possible. Treating existing Hutchinsons’ teeth is also achievable. Education is crucial when diagnosing, treating, and living with Hutchinson’s teeth.
Ijaz, Z. (2021). Hutchinson Teeth: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and More.
Marcin, A. (2019). What is Hutchinson Teeth? See Pictures, Learn Causes, Treatment, and More.
Understanding Hutchinson’s Teeth. (2022).